ravensgarden: (snakeflowerR)
[personal profile] ravensgarden

So far above average in temps. Today, March 9, 2013 it is 71 degrees and sunny, and waspy with sweat bees. *sigh*

I have been monitoring the growth of what I have planted and all bulbs have emerged. Well, some of all bulbs. I have six hyacinths on one side of the storm shelter ramp and 9 on the other (ten were planted on each side)

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and all dozen Tahitian sunset daffs in the shale garden are up, and there are several daffodils of the others emerging from the sides of the storm shelter. EVERYTHING planted in the stacked stone flowerbed and all the bulbs in the driveway flowerbed are up.

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No wildflowers that I planted yet, but the natural ones are up and spotted on a regular basis. Spring will be here any minute!

Thursday I had a frustrating day and came home and needed a long walk. Took the dogs down the spring edge to try to get to the bottom pool of the spring (that always has water in it). I kept to the edge of the spring, and had a couple of scary steep encounters, but finally made it almost to the lower part, and hit an area of thick brambles so intense, that there was no way to go around them. I had a tough time getting both dogs and myself through it (it will be impassible in summer) and finally gave up and crossed the spring to the back side of the property. That is how I always got to that area, going up top, and then coming down the hill, but I am not as mobile as I once was.

Finally got to the lower pool and was shocked. It is such a pretty place, but the logger topped mine and my neighbor’s pines in that area. The entire pool is surrounded by brush piles. It will take YEARS for all of that to rot down. It cannot be burned; it is in a wooded area deep in leaf litter. I was also surprised to see what appears to be a culvert, underground, but ON MY PROPERTY. In all the years I have been inspecting my property, I never noticed it. Now it could be a perfectly formed rock that water is coming out of… but a more logical explanation is that my neighbor or the person who owned his home before him (he has only been there 4 years) put it there to add water to the pool. He (former owner actually) damns my spring as it runs onto his property for his horses. Neighbor did tell me the first time I met him that he assumed my property was Brown land, and he worked on the lower pool so one of his girlfriends could sit naked in it. Don’t know why she couldn’t just sit naked in his pond… it is much larger.

Anyway, that culvert adds another branch to the spring leading into the lower pool. When it can be cleared out, it will be spectacular again. I went up the steep hill to “up top” with the dogs to get back to the house. I can go uphill better than down. The little dog was fine but the corgi/pug mix was huffing and puffing much like I was by the time we made it up to the ridge just below up top.

It felt good to walk it all out and I was motivated to get started on a million and a half projects that needed doing after lunch, but never got to them.

On Friday I decided to take motivation by the horns, and to just start one step at a time. I was outside with my coffee and all the things I would need to start burning some of the brush piles that I had been building around the cabin. I got the big one burned before the wind got too bad and had it banked and smoldering by noon.

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I was … so sore! I had to pretty much sit the rest of the day to recover.

The high was forecast to be 60 but it was 71 by afternoon. I did manage to get the Habenera English Daisies planted in a pot. They were struggling a bit in their store bought containers.

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This morning I decided to try the same thing. Yesterday I burned a pile I had been building slowly for the past month from the large burn pile from clearing of the property, but there is dead wood and downed trees left by utilities everywhere on this property, and I am tired of looking at them. I opened up the ash pile and uncovered the charcoal inside and started feeding it dead fall. It was not long before I had flames and headed to the front of the property in front of the cabin to pull out limbs and dead trees to feed the flames. Got all the big trees from the front and side of the cabin.

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There are still some limbs and odds and ends, but after four full size trees and several smaller ones were dragged to the fire, I was EXHAUSTED.

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I then picked up deadfall from around the “yard” area between the cabin and the spring.

That cart of deadfall was enough to keep the flames hot enough to get those trees completely burned up,

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and I had the pile smoldering and covered with coals and ash by 11.

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The wind was really bad today, really too windy to be burning. I hurt worse today than I did yesterday. Pulling dead trees through a wooded lot takes a lot out of every muscle group.

The blue agave has uncovered itself for two days now so I decided to let it stay open to the weather.

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We are supposed to have a cold snap after a day and a half of rain, but I don’t know if it will be a hard freeze or not. I will look it up, and if not, then I will remove the plastic. I plan on covering up that blue gravel with a more natural color. I just don’t like the blue anywhere other than the driveway. I also decided to plant the area in between the big mama pot and the blue agave with purple and white plants. There is already a purple emperor sedum there and I have purple and white twining dahlias and coneflowers and white Peruvian daffodils. I also have some Mexican wedding flower that would look good there. I need to cut out all the privet like crap that is growing there in order to plant. I may natural gravel the entire area of that part of the flowerbed.

I was surprised to see that the big mama stump has rotted under the pot on top in the center.

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I guess cooperative extension was right in their advice to cut big mama down – she was so far gone as to be hollow inside.

I was tired of doing nothing in the afternoon, so I got out late to start the first raised veggie garden bed. Basically stacking cinder blocks. I leveled the ground on the long edge, and laid the blocks. Then added the two blocks for the width of the bed. I raked the old tomato pot dirt into the bed.

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I then placed a layer of sheet rock for the walkway between the first bed and what will be the second bed,

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and then laid a layer of half blocks for a pathway in between beds.

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The path blocks are NOT level side to side, and that needs to be corrected before I create the second bed. I also need to angle the second bed to fit the curve of the land. I don’t know how I am going to do that at this point, but will get it figured out.

Each bed will be varied in depth.

Thinking this through for almost a week, I realize I need to remove the concrete block path. I walk better on sloped land than sloped blocks. These raised beds are going to have to be free form in a way. I need the dirt to be two blocks deep for the tomatoes, but for most other plants eight to ten inches of loose soil will be enough. I do need however at least four raised beds to get the tomatoes, greens and peas and beans in the ground. I don’t have enough dirt for that.

On Wednesday I had to go to town for a medical appointment. I have a vine/ground cover plant that is causing a lot of problems in my wooded lot, so I cut a piece out to take to cooperative extension to ID and for plants to eradicate it. It is EVERYWHER, and grows up the hardwood trees and kills them.

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I went to medical appt, then to walmart to get some prescriptions and they had opened their garden center goods for sale. I bought 10 bags of topsoil to add to my raised beds. I already know I don’t have enough good dirt to grow much of anything. I also got some petunias to put in hanging baskets on the front porch.

I took my little piece of invasive vine into the extension office and was not surprised that this guy had no idea what it was. It is common at best, but he seems to be an ag guy. He has never been able to answer any of my tree/vine/weed/wetland questions. He seems to focus on cattleman, farmer spraying etc. guy.

When he did not recognize it and could not find it in a book, or on the internet (I tried all of that, and came up with nothing) he called the U of A for a “go to” forestry contact that was not in the office for another week. He tried three others, before he got to pick number four who agreed to look at pictures. I could tell by his demeanor when asking if the guy would look at pictures of my invasive vine that he KNEW he was asking someone else to do his job. The guy did not recognize it at first, but agreed to talk to the other Coop Guys to find out what my vine is.

It is all over these ten acres, so IT HAS TO BE COMMON, but I can’t find it on the internet. I hope they can tell me what it is.

I have been researching ground covers to get rid of the “surface of the moon” landscape I was left with. I have A LOT of steep slopes that need to be stabilized. Only those of you who live in an unstable steep landscape will understand the threat. Those in California probably do understand mudslide if heavy rains destabilize the ground.

For the storm shelter hill, I decided to go with a weed. I can’t get up the hill except on one side, and I have made it to the top of the shelter, but can only sit on its edge, can’t climb on top without help. Planting individual plants high up on the sides is not an option really. I mean I found two ball clumps of grasses in different colors, like polk a dots of grass, but I don’t know if I can go in that direction. A long story, that is still under research. I decided to order
Dichondra (kidney weed) for the storm shelter hill. It does not grow higher than 2 inches, it is green most of the year, and it is a WEED, and will grow. The only problem is that I have to have a small layer of top soil for it to grow in; It is not a wildflower, so needs tilth. I am still working on that angle, but the seeds are on their way.

Thursday I planted my petunias in pots. I waited last year for a few weeks after the first petunias had hit the stands, and was disappointed when none of the “good colors” was still there. While in walmart the previous day, there were several of us looking at the petunias. Trouble is you can get one pot with three of one color, or you can get a nine pack of cells with multiple colors. Seems in each 9 pack there is only ONE GOOD COLOR petunia with a bunch of other crap. I know color preference is subjective, but all of us circling around had the same problem. We all wanted one plant out of each nine pack. Two of us started talking after all of us circling around picking up and inspecting and watching the others to see what they were looking at. *grin*

We ended up helping each other. I ended up with two nine packs (to get one variegated maroon and one dark purple solid)

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and one pot of solid maroon. Last year I started tomatoes in bright red 6 inch pots at the condo with the thought that I would plant dark purple solid petunias in the red pots when the tomatoes had moved on. That dark purple seems to be in demand around here. It is scarce.

I planted two pots that can be hung on the front porch with a mix of solid maroon and variegated maroon in one, and variegated lavender and dark purple in the other.

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I can put the other petunias of various colors in the big mama pot later, after the next cold snap at the end of the month.

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I also got my three French tarragon plants on Thursday.

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There seems to be a shortage of French tarragon plants this year, I went through three of my favorite seed companies who had all sold out before ordering them off of amazon. They were in poor shape on arrival. They paper taped the top of the pots to keep the soil in the 4 inch pots, and tossed them in a box and filled it with foam peanuts. I untapped them, and put them in a pot saucer outside and have kept them standing in water. They and the petunias have perked up nicely.

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It has reached 80s for the past three days. Supposed to chill back down to mid 50s/40s tomorrow though. More like normal temps.

I tried to dig out the privit crap from around the big mama pot in the am. I got most of it, but some of those roots are deeply buried.

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As I was pulling plants/runners I upturned some of the most beautiful acidic forest floor mulch I have ever seen.

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I scooped up big handfuls and filled big mama pot with it (topped off the dirt that was there from last year)

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to prep for planting her in early April. I will put the sweet potato vine from last year out there, all the left over petunias and hopefully some of the tiny blue cape daisies will have seeded themselves in that pot. If not I will get another plant from Kathy’s nursery. The butterflies LOVED that plant.

I overtaxed my muscles pulling all of that privet out, but had to empty my car trunk of the topsoil I bought previously, so hauled that to the back of the house where the raised beds will be. The top soil is NOT good quality, it is powdery sand, but it will add soft texture I hope to my natural rocky topsoil after I screed it. I was not pleased with the quality, but it will do. And it was cheap.

After that I had to take it easy for the rest of the day. I am trying to find balance and that means listening to my body when it has been overused. When I stumble in exhaustion ONCE, it is time to stop.

Friday was chore day, off site. Got the mail, no seeds, and was disappointed in that. I mixed bird food mixes and filled my bins from the bags in my trunk, and got that cleaned up. Did cleaning inside, and cooking. Not much gardening. Kept everything watered.

Had a phone call in the moring from cooperative extension. There is a tentative ID from U of A, but they need better pictures. I had them.

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He then went on to say that they think it is an invasive introduced species Japanese honeysuckle, and that the only solution is controlled burn followed by a Glyphosate herbicide for several years. That makes sense; I was looking on the internet for a “NATURAL” vine, not an introduced invasive. I sent him the pictures along with a question. I had put my moving boxes on the ground around my cabin to try and smother that vine.

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I asked if I was doing more harm than good, and if that would kill it. If I am chasing it deep into the ground so it cannot be burned out, then I need to move those boxes.

At any rate, the coop guy said the forestry department is the one to ask about controlled burns, but to not be surprised if it could not be burned this year. Drought and window of opportunity on burning hardwoods are factors.

I researched the vine on the internet after the call and the state is indeed initiating controlled burns of all lands to try to control this invasive “kudzu/English ivy type pest. I have not yet called the forestry commission. As a land owner I would have to pay them to oversee a controlled burn, but I will get to it eventually.

Opened up the “temp greenhouse” that is stapled to my house to check what was inside. I ended up taking everything out except the texas green sage and the lettuce box. All others needed to come out into the air. I was so pleasantly surprised to see that the daffodil seeds I planted in a pot at the end of summer last year have come up.

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No callas yet, but those also were seeds.

My grandfather’s daisy also made it through the winter, it is dead on top but several plant rosettes have formed in each pot where there was one last fall.

Had phone calls and text messages from family in the evening and as such spent the twilight hours in the yard. Noticed that I had bats feeding on insects in the sky where I see the titmice feed on them during the day. That makes me SO HAPPY. Bats are so endangered here in Arkansas with that white nose fungus, so any bat that is active is a good thing. Oh, and they eat tons of flying bugs – YAY BATS!

During that phone call my aunt mentioned that Wye mountain has announced their annual daffodil festival, and that they were not going this year.


This is something I want to see. I planned on going at some point.

Saturday morning my aunt called again to say that her husband had come downstairs a little after midnight last night to say he wanted to go to Wye mountain today, and did I want to meet them there. We all looked up directions, and coordinated times. It is not far (a little over an hour) but out in the middle of nowhere more than I am out in the middle of nowhere, and the internet instructions are not up to snuff in my opinion, but I did get there.

WOW. I don’t know if the story of Wye mountain is linked on that website but a woman owned family land and started dividing and replanting daffodils all over it. She planted them in rows, which is evident when you see it. When she passed, she gave the land to the Methodist church who uses proceeds from the sale of the daffodils to pay its minister. When the daffs start to bloom every year, they set the dates for the daffodil festival. It is… overwhelming.

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I want this eventually on my property. I have a good start. I have two beds with daffodils in them (and other bulbs) and over fifty different varieties of daffodils planted on three sides of my storm shelter that will eventually spread. I purchased twenty daffodils dug a few minutes before to plant around my property.

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My aunt was going on and on about the “more exotic” daffodils that were not much in evidence, and I decided that I need to get her an early birthday present (she was born on Christmas – daffs need to be planted in October here – may make it an honorarium present to her about my father, who was born on Oct. 11) of some of the more unusual daffodils.

It was hot, and I was tired, but I need to plant some of those daffodils high on my storm shelter, and put some in a pot to plant later at the base of my weeping willow, like I had in GA. I had a dozen daffodils open while I was gone to Wye mountain today, but they are all king Alfred type, the only kind I purchased.

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I will put some of the Wye mountain bicolor trumpets in that bed as well. I did not get around to planting the daffodils, they are still in their little bags on the counter.

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When I came home from Wye Mountain the blue agave had ripped open its plastic again, so I removed it. We will get close to freezing overnight for the next few days, but it really seems to want to be out of that plastic!

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Before I headed out to Wye mountain I checked my mail. I knew I was due seeds the day before, but did not get them. Today I got one package of seeds stuck in my box, and a package slip for something else. In the package stuffed in my box were my Dichondra seeds to seed the shelter sides (and possibly the entire yard eventually) and creeping thyme, an ornamental grass, and English moss.

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Why English Moss? Because I think I have something similar naturally.

I cannot ID it, mosses seem to be difficult to ID, but it is a pillow/cushion type of moss, much like English moss. I could pull off pieces and try to get them to establish, and I may end up doing that, but a few seeds won’t hurt either. I love this area above the mouth of the spring, down by the drainage runnel, behind the house because of this moss.

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That is pretty much it for the first half of March. I ordered sheep fescue as a grass to establish somewhere (original idea was on the storm shelter, but that has changed) but it looks like I might have it naturally in the landscape.

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I like fescue for the “ball” habit it grows in and its texture. I don’t much care for blue fescue because of the color, but may add it in at some point. In my internet searches I found a hot pink ball forming grass that I fell in love with and ordered.

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The seed is not here yet, but when I researched its scientific name, I came up with not a grass, but a tumbleweed. I would love to have green, pink and blue polka
dots of grass on the storm shelter, but not at the expense of the environment. I will have to seed that pink “grass” in a pot first to see if it really is a grass, or a shrub that will detach and -take over the world. I already have too many invasive species to eradicate!

I need to find another way to display the many interesting rocks I am finding on my property. Like these four I picked up on a walk up top.

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The flat shales I lined the shale garden with, but I need a place for interesting “picture rocks” and interesting “shaped holes” in rocks. I also have boxes and boxes of rocks I have either collected or purchased in my travels. Most of the free ones have come from Arkansas. I LOVE rocks.

Some are easy to figure out what to do with. This pile that I saved from being returned to the earth when they dug in the utilities

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Will be used to build a “yellow patio” in this area, as it already has some good sized flat yellow rocks in it.

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It is going to take me years to get this place “decorated” like I want it. *grin*
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